Sports Scene: Alfredo Perez, Chase Perez-Blanco win USTA Florida Bobby Curtis Junior State Championships


About this feature

Sports Scene is a Miami Herald feature that spotlights news and notes from all youth sports activities in your neighborhood. The aim of the section is to feature game notes from any sport and the accomplishments of athletes from Miami-Dade County.

We rely on the directors and coaches of each league to send information for Sports Scene. We also accept photos, but we ask that everyone pictured be identified with a first and last name and the name of the team or park they represent.

The section is free and open to anyone. Email

Be honored at Miami Marlins game

In an effort to recognize deserving South Florida youth baseball and softball players for doing well in school and displaying sportsmanship on the diamond, the Miami Marlins have once again partnered with The Miami Herald to co-sponsor the Team Player spotlight on the Sunday Youth Sports pages in the Neighbors section of The Miami Herald in print and online.

Youth league coaches, team representatives, teachers, friends or family members can nominate any current or former youth league (recreation or travel), middle school or junior varsity baseball/softball player who displays sportsmanship and has good grades or academic gains. Honored players - selected by random drawing - will be invited to a Marlins game where they will receive a certificate of achievement and a Marlins item during a recognition ceremony at Marlins Park.

To nominate someone, e-mail or call 954-538-7153.


Miami’s Chase Perez-Blanco, the No.6 seed, captured his first USTA Florida Bobby Curtis Junior State Championship in singles, defeating No.9 seeded Oliver Landert of Naples 6-4, 7-5 in the Boys’ 18s finals.

The 65th version of the state championships was at the Florida Tennis Center in Daytona Beach, Sanlando Park in Altamonte Springs and the Ormond Beach Tennis Center.

Perez-Blanco took the court in warrior style with face paint and a bandanna, but “it just got uncomfortable, and I thought I have to get this stuff off,” he chuckled.

The two players traded breaks in the first set until Perez-Blanco broke again at 4-4 and served out the set. In the second set, the players again traded breaks with Perez-Blanco finding himself down 3-5 before running off four consecutive games to clinch the championship.

“I knew he was going to come out aggressive, so I wanted to be aggressive, and it’s so hot out here so you don’t want to be out here for three hours running side to side,” Perez-Blanco said.

It was the first singles title in any age group at the Florida championships for Perez-Blanco, who has collected three Florida state doubles championship titles in varying age groups.

“It’s definitely up there at the top of the list [of titles]. It’s the state title. It’s the best kids in the state and to come out on top is a great feeling,” said the 17-year-old who trains at the Royal Palm Tennis Club in Miami.

He is hoping to make a college decision by the end of the summer.

16s: No.2 seeded Alfredo Perez of Coral Gables successfully defended his title in the Boys’ 16 division, upsetting top seeded Chase Colton of Davie 6-4, 6-4 in the finals.

Perez trailed 4-1 in the first set before running off seven straight games to go up a break in the second.

“He was playing really good in the first set, and I was kind of sleepy, and then I started moving a lot better and making a lot of balls in the court,” Perez said. “He started playing really well again in the second set, but I took my time and at the end of the set broke him at 5-4 and won.”

The 16-year-old Perez joined Gordon Watson (2010-09), Larry Gottfried (1975-74), Ben McKown (1973-72) and Mac Claflin (1966-65) as back-to-back winners in the 16s division in the history of the event dating to 1952.

“The first two or three matches I was kind of nervous, [being the] defending champion. I didn’t play my best tennis but won matches,” said Perez, who trains at the USTA Training Center-Headquarters in Boca Raton but also attributes his development to former coach Robert Gomez at the Biltmore Tennis Center in Coral Gables.

• Historically the highest-quality USTA Section tournament in the country, the USTA Florida Section junior championships launched the careers of future No.1s Chris Evert, Jennifer Capriati, Jim Courier and Andy Roddick among other ATP and WTA tour players over the years.

Tennis challenge

USTA Florida is launching a new series of recreational team tennis events, under the mantra “Bring Your Own Team.” Dubbed Team Tennis Challenges, these two- and three-day tournaments are a more fun, open recreational format for teams to play.

Teams from anywhere in Florida can register for the inaugural State Team Tennis Challenge July 26-28 at the Florida Tennis Center. Four regional Team Tennis Challenges will follow in the fall across the state. USTA members and non-members can participate, with USTA members receiving a $10 discount on registration.

“We have seen consistent demand across Florida for more open, recreational formats of play,” said USTA Florida Associate Executive Director Andy McFarland. “The new USTA Florida Team Tennis Challenges offer fewer restrictions, allowing more teams to participate. They also give players who are not yet USTA members the opportunity to experience our events and programs, while offering a clear value proposition for our junior members.”

To participate in the State Team Tennis Challenge, teams must have a minimum of two boys and two girls and no more than eight players per team. Age divisions include 12U, 14U, 16U, and 18U, and there are three skill divisions: novice, intermediate and advanced, with short-set scoring utilized.

Participation is limited, and USTA Florida strongly encourages coaches to register teams early to ensure their place in this landmark event.

More info, including a link to register, is online at You can also connect with USTA Florida via Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #BYOTeamTennis.

Synchronized swimming

All Stars Synchro is a competitive traveling synchronized swim team that has been very successful in its two years under the leadership of Head Coach Yamilet Alvarez, who resides in Hialeah. The age range is 10-17.

During the Association Championships in Sarasota, Limaris Ayala of Hialeah and Estela Suarez were third in duets, qualifying for regionals in the 13-15 age group.

At the regional event, five qualified for nationals including Liana Ayala of Hialeah who outdid herself by winning the bronze medal on all her routines (Solo, Trio, Team) in the 11-12 age group. Carolina Maeso of Miami Lakes placed Top 8 in Florida in the Figures competition, age 11-12. She also won the bronze medal in her Team Routine, called Gagnam Style.

All Stars Synchro has been invited to several competitions within the state and abroad: Gainesville, Orlando, Tampa, West Palm Beach, Sarasota, Ohio and Texas.

Last year, 49 synchro clubs from around the nation competed at nationals in Oxford, Ohio including All Stars Synchro. Nearly the entire team qualified for nationals in just its first year. The All Stars Synchro 16-19 duets placed third in the nation, and the 11-12 soloist was 21st. The 11-12 age group team placed 17th, and the 16-19 team finished 10th.

Hialeah’s Silvia Espinosa, a.k.a. Linda, mainly trains the 11-12-year-old girls in the Intermediate and Age Gourp levels. She is originally from Cuba and represented its national team. She started doing synchro at age 7 and made the national team at age 10. She trained for 1 1/2 years in Colombia, three months in Curacao and three years in the United States. When she was 30, she retired from synchro and went into coaching. She’s been training girls for 17 years.

Hialeah’s Yamilet Alvarez is the head coach and president of All Stars Synchro. She is also originally from Cuba, and she was trained there by Espinosa. She’s been doing synchro for 30 years. She was on the Cuban national team for seven years. She earned the bronze medal in Figures at the Pan American Games. She took gold in the Central American event.

In 2009, Alvarez won the gold medal in Figures at the Masters Championship. She performed for Ivanna Trump, and her latest show was at the El Ritz Carlson Hotel in Grand Cayman Island.

Itza Diaz-Ayala, mom of All Stars Synchro athletes Limaris and Liana Ayala, said: “As a mom of two daughters in the sport of synchronized swimming since 2009 and as a Level 1 Judge for the USA Synchro, I have the utmost respect for our swimmers.

“I believe our swimmers are the most dedicated, passionate, talented, and strongest swimmers any team can have. They train long hours all year around under the South Florida sun without a squeak. I always tell others that I’ve given birth to fish instead of kids. To say my girls love the water is an understatement. My daughters came to the sport with a background in ballet and competitive swimming; and even though, this gave them a foundation for some necessary skills, they were challenged by the demands of the sport.

“It is said that this sport is the second hardest sport after the triathlon, and I believe it. They train four times per week for three to four hours at a time, and sometimes more hours are required when getting ready for competitions. While doing routines, they are so graceful that people forget they are not touching the floor and at many times holding their breath for almost two minutes. They are defying all kinds of natural laws with a smile on their faces. Now that’s synchronized swimming.

“My daughters have made it to the national championships, twice under the coaching of Yamilet Alvarez. Just like any organized sport, my girls have tasted the sweetness of triumphs and bitterness of defeat. More importantly, they have learned some real-life lessons about sportsmanship, discipline, teamwork, and leadership.

“I, along with All Stars Synchro Team, are thankful for the support and confidence of Imperio Auto Repair from Doral, which has donated the money to provide transportation for Liana and her teammates for nationals in Riverside, Calif.”

Limaris and Liana Ayala, Carolina Maeso and Valeria Hernandez have been doing synchro together since 2009. Limaris and Liana have been homeschooled since 2009. They were recently accepted to the Miami Arts Charter School and will join Valeria Hernandez, Liana’s Trio Routine partner, who has already been at the school.

Rutsie Hernandez, mom of All Stars Synchro athlete Carolina Maeso, said: “I am overly proud of all the accomplishments that she has achieved, both in synchronized swimming, as well as in her personal life. Carolina is a very dedicated girl who does not stop trying until she masters any skill given.

“In All Stars Synchro, the team practices four days a week. During school days, she gets home after 9:30 p.m.; she then eats and finishes any homework or studies for any tests that she might have. Synchronized swimming, as well as many other sports, develops an extreme amount of personal discipline, teaching the athletes to manage their time diligently.

“As a funny note, one of her teachers from Bob Graham Education Center, where she just finished sixth grade, asked her, ‘Carolina, how is it that you are good in school (member of the National Junior Honor Society), you play the harp and on top of that you do synchronized swimming and get medals?’ Carolina, being as shy as she is, does not brag about it. She just sees it as a Blessing from God.

“Synchronized swimming requires understanding both mentally and physically of your body movements. Carolina has been doing synchronized swimming for more than four years. Linda Espinosa, her coach for more than three years, has been a great influence; and the reason why my daughter is where she is in the sport. Carolina loves the sport and her coach so much that she does not mind all the sacrifices that come with it. Her dedication to the sport has made her succeed. It is hard to say how far she will go, but for now, she is enjoying every minute of it.”

Miami Stings baseball

The Miami Stings 13U travel baseball team gave their dads a terrific Fathers’ Day present when they brought home the championship of the Key West Craze Tournament.

Standout pool play pitching by Roger Ceballos, Joey Yngber, Benny Gorelick, Alec Arrizurieta, Daniel Flaquer, Kevin Morera, and Victor Valderrama keyed day one.

The Stings opened the tournament with a 4-1 win over the International Academy. Raul Perez hit a sacrifice fly to drive in the final run. The Stings then fell 9-2 to the Coral Springs Sandlot, putting the Stings into the elimination round as the No.5 seed.

On the next day, the team was fueled by outstanding starting pitching from Gabriel Garcia, Kevin Sabatier and Valderrama.

The Stings faced their toughest challenge in their quarterfinal game against the Naturals. Catcher Andrew Hernandez recorded a run-saving out at the plate to preserve a 6-5 win. The Stings then overpowered the Wellington Colts 5-0 in the semifinals. Valderrama pitched a complete game shutout, and Arrizurieta’s two-run double sparked the offense.

The Stings had a re-match with the International Academy in the final. Sabatier and Arrizurieta combined on the team’s second shutout of the day, and Robert Leiva hit a solo home run in an 8-0 championship victory.

Morning Mile

Nearly 400 Miami-Dade Parks’ summer campers gathered at Goulds Park for inspiration and exercise as part of an expanded Morning Mile program sponsored by AvMed Health Plans.

Former Miami Heat point guard and five-time NBA All-Star Tim Hardaway, Olympic Coach and University of Miami Director of Track & Field and Cross-Country Amy Deem, track and field student-athletes from the University of Miami, Olympic hurdler Bershawn Jackson, Fitz Koehler from Fitzness International, Pat Nelson from AvMed Health Plans, and Deputy Chief of Staff Helena Sumpter from the Office of Miami-Dade County District 9 Commissioner Dennis C. Moss, shared personal stories, stretched and led the children as they embarked on the “100 for 100 Challenge” with the goal of each camper running 100 miles by summer’s end.

Now available at all 42 Miami-Dade Parks’ summer camps, the Morning Mile program, developed by Fitzness International, incentivizes children to get moving each morning with a run, jog or walk. Children receive collectible necklace charms for every five miles logged as they strive to receive the coveted “100” mile charm.

As part of the “100 for 100 Challenge”, local companies are encouraged to donate $100 to the non-profit Parks Foundation of Miami-Dade for each child who reaches the 100-mile milestone. Dollars are donated to the Fit2Play Scholarship Fund, matched 100-percent, and provide children in need with scholarships to attend after-school and summer camp programs.

For information on the “100 for 100 Challenge” and how your organization can get involved, e-mail or call 305-755-7804.


The Archbishop Curley Notre Dame Prep cross-country team invites the community to join them at the Summer Fun Runs.

The free runs are 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays through Aug. 1. The group meets at the Miami Shores Recreation Center, 9617 Park Dr.

The school and community tradition grown from a small following of about seven runners per week to a record-breaking turnout of 354 runners in 15 gatherings. Athletic experience ranges from a 25 time participating marathoner to a tri-athlete to someone who had never run recreationally. Age range has been 11-60, but all ages are welcome.

Coach Br. John Corcoran designs three courses of gradually increasing mileage: one for beginner runners or walkers, another for recreational runners and joggers and also for advanced or competitive runners.

For information call the school at 305-751-8367, email Br. J. Corcoran at or visit the Facebook page:


The Wilson brothers from Coral Gables fared very well during the West Palm Beach Fitkids Triathlon at Gaines Park. More than 100 boys and girls participated in various age group divisions.

Colin, 11, was first in the Senior Division (age 11-12). He completed a 150-yard swim, a 4.8-mile bike and a 1-mile run in 30 minutes 7.2 seconds. Cavan, 13, won the Super Senior Division (13-14), covering a 200-yard swim, a 4.8-mile bike and a 1-mile run in 28:06.9.

Sunshine State Games

Fencer Brichell Villa of Miami won gold in Senior Women’s Epee during the Alachua County Festival of the Sunshine State Games at the Sante Fe College Gymnasium.

Miami’s Lucas Fernandez won gold in Open Y-12 Men’s Foil, and Harrison Hue of Homestead did the same in Open Senior Men’s Sabre.

The games attracted more than 2,900 athletes in seven sports.

Fencing at Santa Fe College Gymnasium : Other top local finishers: Division III Senior Mixed Epee: 3. Manuel Matus, Miami. Open Y-14 Women’s Epee: 3. Christine Sanchez, Miami. Open Senior Men’s Sabre: 3. Sean Vilar, Miami.

The Sunshine State Games are the longest continuously-running Olympic-style Sports Festival in the United States dating to 1980.



Kimberly Furness of Bettendorf, Iowa, and Casey Jeffries of Key Largo were named overall team champions at the Ladies Dolphin Tournament in Islamorada.

Fishing from the First Choice with Islamorada’s Captain Larry Wren, the duo landed a combined three-fish total 74.1 pounds. They earned $3,000 for the win. Jeffries also secured the event’s largest dolphin award for a 28.7-pound fish. The team’s winning tally included two 22.7-pounders as well.

Fifteen-year-old Seanna Lindback of Tavernier handily won the award for catching the junior division’s largest dolphin. She caught a 21.6-pound fish while onboard the Tiki with Captain Roy Lindback.

Eighty-three anglers on 31 boats fished the tournament, a fundraiser for the Florida Keys Elks Lodge charities.

Fishing tournament

Anglers are to pursue elusive permit at the Del Brown Invitational Permit Tournament July 14-17 in Key West.

The contest honors the late angling legend Del Brown, widely considered to be the most successful permit fly-rodder in history. The inventor of the crablike Del Brown Permit Fly caught more than 500 permit during his lifetime.

The tournament angler who catches the largest total inches of permit on fly on the flats earns the title of grand champion and receives a bronze trophy created by noted South African sculptor Chris Bladen. Bronze trophies also await the runner-up angler, angler with the most bonefish releases and their guides.

The angler and guide that finish next in the standings each receives a wooden sculpture created by sculptor Mark Gottschalk of Vivid Arts in Eden Prairie, Minn., and the angler-and-guide duo that reels in the largest permit is to be awarded original paintings by Key West artist Adam Russell.

The fly-only Del Brown Invitational Permit Tournament begins with a kick-off event and captains meeting at 6 p.m. July 14, at La Trattoria Oceanside, 3593 S. Roosevelt Blvd.

Angling action is July 15-17. An awards ceremony is at Hurricane Hole Marina, 5130 Overseas Highway on Stock Island.

Last year’s grand champion, Tony Nobregas of Islamorada and his guide Captain Rob Fordyce will return to defend their titles.

The tournament’s entry fee is $1,200 per angler. Professionals and guides are allowed to compete as well.

Proceeds from the tournament benefit the Jon Ain Memorial Fund at Bonefish & Tarpon Trust. Ain, one of fly fishing’s top permit anglers and the organizer of Key West’s March Merkin tournament, died in 2012.

Information and registration: or 305-360-6969 or 305-744-0903.

Barry award

Barry University’s athletic department was selected as the NCAA’s Sunshine State Conference representative of the Division II Community Engagement Award of Excellence program.

Barry participated in the Village of Miami Shores Street Fair on Oct. 13 to celebrate the community’s 80th birthday. Student athletes, coaches and administration staff from the Buccaneers athletic department ran an "athletic village" as part of the community-wide event.

Barry’s personnel managed games, including a soccer kick, bean bag toss, miniature golf, basketball, rowing and agility staff. Members from the Bucs athletics also interacted with members of the community, had a table set up to give away prizes including Barry foam fingers, T-shirts, Buccaneer athletics poster schedules and candy. Barry’s cheer team also displayed an exciting performance.

The school’s involvement in the street fair had a positive influence on campus as attendance figures from community-wide residents increased at Barry home athletic events. Additionally, the university and Village of Miami Shores have formed a greater connection.

Southern Arkansas was chosen as the NCAA Division II national winner of the community engagement program. Fifteen other schools around the country were selected as conference winners. Barry University is in Miami Shores.

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JCC Maccabi Games

The Levis JCC in Boca Raton proudly hosts the JCC Maccabi Games Aug. 10-15. The Olympic-style event welcomes thousands of Jewish teen athletes who will compete in team and individual sports and participate in social and community service activities.

The JCC Maccabi Games, managed by JCC Association, began as a 1982 pilot project in Memphis with 300 Jewish youth and has ballooned to an annual summer event which attracts thousands of teens from North America and abroad to multiple sites in the United States and Canada.

“We are thrilled to again welcome the Levis JCC to the long list of host communities,” said Dan Deutsch, director of JCC Maccabi Experience. “Hosting the Games is an incredible community building project. The impact of hosting can be felt for years.”

Locally chaired by Levis JCC Board of Directors members Bonnie Schweiger and Matt Baker, the Levis JCC will welcome Jewish teens from the United States, Israel and several other countries. Athletes will compete in a variety of team and individual sports including girls’ and boys’ soccer, basketball, baseball, softball, volleyball, tennis, golf and swimming at venues throughout Boca Raton.

“Having hosted the Games in 2000, we are very excited about being given the opportunity to host the JCC Maccabi Games in our community for a second time. We anticipate another extremely successful JCC Maccabi Games,” said Randy Colman, Executive Director of the Levis JCC. “Involvement begins now. We are actively recruiting host families, athletes, volunteers, sponsors and coaches to participate in our Games. This is an incredible experience for all who are involved and for the Levis JCC to engage our entire community.”

In every team and individual contest, Games participants are encouraged to follow the “Rachmanus Rule,” a credo that dictates fair play, based on the Jewish values of mercy and compassion. Teamwork, sportsmanship, and respect for opponents are prized over winning at any cost.

Supplementing the team and individual sports competitions, there are fun and engaging social programs that promote friendships and JCC Cares projects that instill the Jewish values of tikkun olam (repairing the world) and tzedakah (social justice). That creates an informal educational instruction that foster a personal connection to the State of Israel. Over the years, participants have spoken of making new friends and memories to last a lifetime, motivating many to return to the Games annually, even volunteering as delegation heads and coaches when they are no longer participating as athletes.

Since they were established in 1982, the Games have offered a life-changing experience, not just to the athletes themselves, but also to their parents and coaches and the legions of volunteers in host communities who work hard for more than a year to plan a busy week of events on and off the field. There are numerous opportunities for people to become involved, from greeting athletes as they arrive, to hosting teens, to raising funds.

To encourage a stronger connection to Israel, the Opening Ceremonies will include a moving tribute to the 11 Israeli athletes killed by terrorists at the 1972 Olympics in Munich, Germany.

The JCC Maccabi Games are a joint project of JCC Association, Maccabi Canada, Maccabi World Union, and Maccabi USA.

Those interested in being part of the JCC Maccabi Games in any capacity should contact Nancy Carroll, JCC Maccabi Games Director, or call 561-852-3117.

Sponsorship opportunities are available. For information, contact Cindy Bergman or call 561-852-3253.


Jordan Karp, a 16-year-old senior at Miami Country Day School, is leading a unique program to introduce lacrosse to under-privileged, at-risk inner city youths being tutored on the campus of the school. The program began June 17 in collaboration with Breakthrough Miami, a nonprofit organization that provides disadvantaged students with the tools they need to reach their goals.

Jordan provides his lacrosse expertise to the students of Breakthrough Miami: how the sport is played, its rules and the team-building skills that will help the children not just in sport but life. Jordan secured revolutionary lacrosse equipment from major manufacturers who donated beginner equipment. He hopes that it will inspire similar programs for other sports to include underprivileged children throughout the nation as well as promote the expansion of lacrosse and encourage kids to play the game.

Breakthrough Miami is a tuition-free academic enrichment program that provides motivated middle-school students from underserved communities with the tools they need to achieve their most ambitious goals in life. It was recognized for its excellence by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, with a grant of $3.25 million to expand and serve more students and families in need. Breakthrough Miami serves more than 1,000 students from across Miami-Dade County at five independent schools and one public charter school. It become an eight-year program, guiding students from the 5th grade through high school graduation.

Lacrosse will continue through July 26.

Jordan’s introduction to lacrosse began when he first picked up a stick in the 6th grade, and it has become his life’s passion, followed closely by academics. This season as a junior attackman, he was honored as the leading scorer on the Miami Country Day varsity lacrosse team. He will return to school as a Captain of the team next year.

Jordan was named by The Miami Herald as an All-Dade lacrosse player. Riding this momentum, Jordan was recently selected and is playing for Team Miami and the Elite Team Florida, which represents the state in two national tournaments: one held in Princeton, N.J. and the most prestigious tournament, Hotbeds at the University of Delaware. Florida Lacrosse News recently mentioned Jordan “as someone to keep an eye on” from his performance at the Team Florida All-Star competition.

Heisman high school nominations

Now through Oct. 23, high school class of 2014 seniors can apply for the Wendy’s High School Heisman Award, a program honoring outstanding high school scholar-athletes for their commitment to academic achievement, community service involvement and athletic prowess.

To apply, students can go to for a chance to win the Award and the prestige of joining an ever-growing family of distinguished past winners. The first 25,000 students with completed applications will receive a Wendy’s gift card valued at $10.

Created by Wendy’s founder Dave Thomas in 1994, the Wendy’s High School Heisman Award has impacted the lives of thousands of scholar athletes who have been a part of the program for the past 20 years. Since its inception, Wendy’s High School Heisman has received more than 400,000 applications and honored more than 228 National Finalists and 38 National Winners.

A partner award with college football’s acclaimed Heisman Memorial Trophy, the Heisman caché touches students at every level of the program. In addition to recognition at school and state levels, six female and six male national finalists receive an all-expense paid trip to New York City to attend the Wendy’s High School Heisman Awards Ceremony and college Heisman Memorial Trophy Award weekend festivities in December 2013. The one male and one female Wendy’s High School Heisman Award winners will also earn $10,000 for their high school and a $500 Wendy’s gift card.

The Wendy’s High School Heisman Award is a joint program between Wendy’s and the Heisman Memorial Trust, host of the College Heisman Memorial Trophy. The 2012 winners were Samuel Prakel of Versailles, Ohio, who plans to study chemical engineering or biology this fall, and Zoe Alaniz of Corpus Christi, Texas, who plans to swim at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the fall and to follow a pre-med track.

A complete list of past WHSH finalists and winners can be found at

Moments of Month

Liberty Mutual Insurance announced the annual search for the most responsible youth sports moments of the year, in partnership with Positive Coaching Alliance.

Now in its third year, the “Top 10 Responsible Sports Moments” of 2013 seeks to identify and applaud acts of sportsmanship, selflessness, integrity, fairness and honesty from youth sports fields, rinks, courts, mats and pools around the country.

This year, with the help of U.S. Olympic skiing legend and youth sports parent Picabo Street, Liberty Mutual Insurance will name the “Top 10 Responsible Sports Moments” at the close of 2013.

Aligning with the brand’s ongoing commitment to responsibility, Liberty Mutual Insurance recently announced its partnership with the United States Olympic Committee and Team USA as the Official Property and Casualty and Life Insurance Partner of the 2014 and 2016 U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams that will compete in Sochi, Russia, and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Street, best known for her gold medal performance in the super-G at the 1998 Olympic Winter Games in Nagano, Japan, and silver medal downhill performance in 1994 in Lillehammer, Norway, joins Liberty Mutual’s commitment to youth sports as a mother and avid supporter of sportsmanship at all levels.

“As an athlete and now a mother of four young sons, I know first-hand the influence youth sports have in enriching a child with the values of sportsmanship and responsibility,” Street said. “To see U.S. Olympic Team partners like Liberty Mutual Insurance celebrate responsibility on the youth sports level is something I am proud to be a part of, and I urge fans across the country to share their examples of selflessness with us as nominees for 2013’s ‘Top 10 Responsible Sports Moments.’”

Now through Nov. 30, coaches and parents can submit a moment that celebrates the inherent goodness in youth sports at or by tweeting a nomination using #RSMoments. In addition, throughout 2013, Liberty Mutual Insurance and PCA will scour local headlines across the country and identify additional moments that exemplify sportsmanship within local communities.

Each month, three nominees will be highlighted on the Responsible Sports site where fans can tweet their vote for the most responsible “Moment of the Month.”

Winning moments will be announced at the close of 2013 and be honored by Liberty Mutual Insurance with a charitable donation of $1,000 to the 10 organizations that are responsible for each Responsible Sports moment. The Top “Moment of the Year” winner, as voted on by fans on Twitter, will also earn an extra $1,000 honorarium for its organization.

For information, visit or join the conversation @RespSports.

Heads Up

Former tight end Troy Drayton played nine seasons in the NFL, including 1996-99 with the Miami Dolphins, and he is now the Dolphins’ youth program coordinator.

Drayton is adding a new title to his listing – NFL Ambassador for Heads Up Football.

The NFL and USA Football jointly announced the national launch of Heads Up Football, a youth football program aimed at making the game of football better and safer for all who play it. The program is being supported with a $1.5 million grant from the NFL Foundation.

Three million kids already play tackle football and the game can be even safer. Heads Up Football includes a tackling model that removes the head from the game.

Heads Up Football has five core elements: 1) The use of the Heads Up Tackling model, 2) coaching certification, 3) Player Safety Coaches, 4) concussion education, and 5) proper equipment fitting.

The program was launched in three pilot markets last year. This year, it will expand to more than 600 youth leagues throughout 50 states. Of these leagues, 100 will be assigned a former NFL player mentor. Drayton will serve as a mentor to a local Heads Up League – the Tamiami Colts of the Miami Xtreme Youth Football League.


The USA Swimming Foundation granted more than $250,000 to help local Make a Splash partners in 19 states provide children with life-saving, learn-to-swim instruction for free or at a reduced cost.

More than 130 applications were received, and 41 local programs were selected as recipients of 2013 Make a Splash grants. Among the 41 recipients nationwide was Hialeah.

Make a Splash is the national child-focused, water-safety initiative of the USA Swimming Foundation. Make a Splash partners with more than 600 learn-to-swim providers in all 50 states in an effort to provide the opportunity for every child in America to learn to swim.

“This funding allows our local partners to provide swimming lessons to children who otherwise may never have the opportunity to learn the life-skills of swimming,” said Debbie Hesse, Executive Director of the USA Swimming Foundation. “The USA Swimming Foundation is excited to see continued growth, as we now have programs in all 50 states and have reached nearly 2 million children since 2007. We are incredibly grateful to our donors and corporate sponsors who are dedicated to making sure all children in American learn to swim.”

The USA Swimming Foundation grants money to partner organizations on an annual basis, and, to date, has disbursed more than $2.8 million. Grants are made possible by the support of donors, foundations and corporate partners.

Since June of 2007, more than 1.8 million children have taken lessons though local Make a Splash partners. Grant recipients like Hialeah provide a portion of its lessons for free or at a reduced cost, or provide free water safety education in their communities.

• About USA Swimming Foundation

The USA Swimming Foundation serves as the philanthropic arm of USA Swimming. Established in 2004, the Foundation works to strengthen the sport by saving lives and building champions – in the pool and in life. Whether we’re equipping our children with the life-saving skill of learn-to-swim, or providing financial support to our heroes on the U.S. National Team, the USA Swimming Foundation aims to provide the wonderful experience of swimming to kids at all levels across the country.

The Foundation also serves as the home for our National and Olympic Team Alumni reunions and regional events. The development efforts of the USA Swimming Foundation aim to establish an endowment to strengthen the future of USA Swimming’s programs and services. To learn more, visit

Big Shot Volleyball Series

The Reflekt Polarized Big Shot Volleyball Series, presented by Rider Sandals, will start the 2013 season at sites throughout Florida. Teams from throughout the East Coast will compete as they warm up for the 2013 Pro Beach Volleyball Tour.

Top male and female doubles teams will compete for over $75,000 cash prizes during the 2013 season including $12,000 at the Spring Florida events. Tournament play will start at 9 a.m. with women’s finals scheduled for 6 p.m. Saturdays and men’s finals Noon Sundays. Admission is free for spectators.

Separate divisions for players of intermediate and novice levels on Saturdays and Sundays. The $60 entry fee entitles players to a day of tournament play, an official Reflekt Polarized Big Shot Volleyball T-shirt and a chance to win merchandise prizes from tournament sponsors Spalding, Rider Sandals, 4C Totally Light 2Go Energy Drinks, Rox Volleyball, 1st Place Volleyball, SOB Volleyball Vacations, Sixpak Volleygear, Zem Booties, Dig Magazine, Bally’s Casino and Park and Sun Sports.

The Big Shot Volleyball Series holds 35 events leading to the $8,000 Big Shot Championships at Bally’s Casino Sept. 7-8 in Atlantic City and the $5,000 Volley America National Championships in October in Clearwater Beach. Visit

Rebelle volleyball

Rebelle Athletics Club offers girls’ volleyball tryouts at Archbishop Curley Notre Dame High School, 4949 NE 2nd Ave.

The volleyball club, a member of the United States Volleyball Association, is under the direction of Mandi Tate, Dee Rey and former Barry University player Kelly Dantas. They are former coaches with South Florida Volleyball Club and currently coach at Alonzo & Tracy Mourning Senior High School in Biscayne Bay.

Rebelle Athletics is dedicated to providing developmental and participatory athletic sports programs beginning at the youth development level. It offers a progression of sports activities for persons of all ages, races and creeds. It strives to enhance the physical, mental and moral development of amateur athletes at all levels, promoting sportsmanship and active citizenship.


USA Triathlon

USA Triathlon aims to return multisport to its roots with the inaugural USA Triathlon Retro Tri Series, which debuts this spring with 10 beginner-friendly events -- one in each USA Triathlon region including Miami.

The focus of the Retro Tri Series is participation, rather than competition. The aim of the events is to introduce the sport of triathlon and educate race participants about the healthy and active multisport lifestyle. The events are open to first-timers, seasoned veterans and those looking to stay active -- swimming, biking and running in a safe atmosphere. Each event is sanctioned by USA Triathlon.

“Our new Retro Tri Series events offer something for anyone interested in participating in the sport of triathlon,” USA Triathlon CEO Rob Urbach said. “These races can be for athletes who want a good, safe workout, or for someone who may feel intimidated by going to a larger race. We’re looking forward to this year’s events and can’t wait to introduce more and more newcomers to the multisport lifestyle.”

The Retro Tri Series events are geared toward adult and youth competitors age 13 and older. Each race will feature a 300-400-yard swim, 5-10-mile bike and 2-5-kilometer run.

USA Triathlon Retro Series Schedule

July 20: Big Spring Super Sprint & Kids Tri, Big Spring, Texas.

July 20: Runner’s Roost Retro Triathlon (R3 Tri), Buffalo.

July 28: Gaucho Super Sprint Triathlon, Goleta, Calif.

Aug. 4: Omaha Retro Family Triathlon, Omaha, Neb.

Sept. 8: FIU Triathlon, North Miami.

Nov. 3: Old Dominion University (ODU) Triathlon, Norfolk, Va.

For more on the USA Triathlon Retro Tri Series, visit

USA Duathlon

With the aim of introducing more athletes to the exciting multisport discipline of duathlon, USA Triathlon unveiled the 10 events that will comprise the 2013 USA Triathlon Duathlon Race Series including one in Florida.

Ten races comprise USA Triathlon’s 2013 Duathlon Race Series. (David Sanders/USA Triathlon)

With one event in each of USA Triathlon’s 10 regions, athletes across the country will have the opportunity to compete in a top run-bike-run event. Each event is sanctioned by USA Triathlon and will count toward the popular end-of-year Duathlon National Rankings for USA Triathlon annual members.

Awards will be presented to the top finishers in each series event.

The series will continue through the Oct. 20 Longboat Key Duathlon in Longboat Key. USA Triathlon’s Duathlon National Championships is Oct. 26 in Tucson/Oro Valley, Ariz. Visit for information on Duathlon Nationals.

USA Triathlon sanctioned nearly 600 duathlon races in 2012, more than doubling the number of sanctioned races from 2006.

Florida Race: Oct. 20: Longboat Key Duathlon. Distances: 2-mile run, 20-mile bike, 5-mile run. Website: Contact: or 813-966-7844.

Thunder Basketball

Thunder Basketball’s new home is at the ThunderPleX, 1440 NW 82 Ave., Miami.

Thunder is running its first day camp and a summer league open to boys and girls, age 5-17. Thunder Basketball’s mission is to teach principles, fundamentals and basic skills. They stress the importance of team and sportsmanship. Thunder also encourages players to succeed in the classroom and all aspects of life.

For information visit Registration is now open. Contact or call 786-505-5585.

Miami Lady Express basketball

The Miami Lady Express girls’ basketball team needs funding to continue competing in tournaments throughout the United States. The coaches volunteered to train the girls, giving them something positive to do, and the parents have been fundraising.

Travel costs, food, tournament fees and lodging are very expensive for these girls. They practice at the Keys Gate Gym in Florida City and South Dade High School where their coaches teach. Contact Coach Larry Hicks at 786-301-2577.

Tamiami basketball

Tamiami youth basketball registration is open for girls and boys, age 5-16. Email or call 305 -273-1145.

Marlins Tours

The Miami Marlins offer behind the scenes tours of Marlins Park. The tours are open to the public on non-event days for $10 a person.

The tour includes visits to the field (behind home plate), home clubhouse, home batting cage area and Diamond Club, Promenade Level featuring the art in the facility, the bobblehead museum and the premium areas including the Suites.

Tours operate from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday, except when the Marlins play at home or when other major events are scheduled at Marlins Park. Group tours, accommodating between 10 and 25 people, are available by appointment.

For information, fans can call 1-877-MARLINS or e-mail Tickets can be purchased at the ticket windows on Felo Ramirez Drive (NW 6 Street between NW 14 Avenue and NW 15 Avenue) and are for the time and date specified.

Tickets are non-exchangeable and non-refundable.

Softball camp

A girls’ softball camp is 8:30 a.m.-Noon July 8-12 at the Miami Shores Fieldhouse, 9825 Park Dr., Miami Shores.

The US Baseball and Softball School is providing an excellent opportunity for softball players to improve their skills. Players will work with quality coaches to develop all aspects of the game including fielding, hitting, pitching and catching.

Cost is $123 for Miami Shores residents and $145 for other residents. Register at the Miami Shores Fieldhouse. Call 305-758-6701.

HOF baseball

Hall Of Fame Baseball is sponsoring travel baseball teams for 11-12, 13-14, 15-18 (high school).

Hall Of Fame Coach Rich Hofman and his staff will coach the teams which will practice and play in tournaments and leagues. Register for a tryout at or call David Hofman at 954-804-5600 or Ed Tisdale at 803-463-2591.

Youth Rugby South Miami

The Miami Rugby Youth Division, boys age 6-18, practices 6-8 p.m. Mondays at Murray Park and Wednesdays at Palmer Park, 6120 SW 67th Ave., South Miami. Call 305-400-0134, ext. 101. Visiti


Jai-alai is open to anyone, age 10 to 80.

With a rubber ball and cestas, the amateur jai-alai facility is at 1935 NE 150th St. in North Miami, near FIU’s north campus.

It is indoors, air-conditioned and open to all. Contact Luis at 305-389-2313 or Bob at 786-556-3574.

Jai-Alai for women

Who said you have to be a male to play jai-alai? Just as females play the sport in Spain, France and Mexico, and gals can play it in South Florida at an amateur indoor air-conditioned fronton at 1935 NE 150 St., North Miami, near FIU’s north campus.

There are also leagues for males and children. Rubber or plastic balls used with free lessons by former pros. Cestas and balls also provided free with a nominal court fee. Open everyday. Email or call Brucio 786-629-5428. The American Amateur Jai-Alai Academy is a not-for-profit organization.

South Miami soccer camp

The South Miami Grey Ghosts Soccer Club is hosting a summer camp, weekly through Aug. 16 at South Miami Park, 4300 SW 58th St.

Grey Ghosts Soccer Club offers male and female players, age 5-15, an opportunity to learn the game in a fun and challenging environment. Techniques and basic individual tactics are emphasized. The philosophy of learning skills through fun games, which require maximum touches of the ball, introduces the young player to the most advanced techniques. To register or for information go to

Soccer 5 Academy

Soccer 5 Academy Mini Soccer Program, also referred to as small-sided soccer, makes its South Florida debut at three Miami-Dade County-owned parks – Tropical Park (7900 SW 40 St. in Miami), Kendall Soccer Park (8011 SW 127 Ave.) and Amelia Earhart Park (401 E. 65th St in Hialeah).

Headed by Soccer 5’s Director of Coaching Development Alan Georgeson, who has more than 15 years of experience in Europe in mini/small-sided soccer, kids, age 3-12, will learn the history of mini soccer, the basics of how to play, reasons why mini soccer is the preferred form of soccer play for kids, youth and even adults, and will have the opportunity to play in 3v3 to 7v7 matches.

With Kendall Park, ts recent grand opening of Soccer 5 Tropical Park and its third location at Amelia Earhart Park, mini/small-sided soccer will be available across the county, providing a greater opportunity for children and families to access the proper 4G turf game fields specifically designed for “5v5,” “6v6” and “7v7” games.

With smaller fields, mini soccer is much easier for young children or children who have never played. In addition, mini soccer is designed for competitive play against less number of players, providing more opportunity for pick-up games, as well as more opportunity to play the ball making mini soccer popular with older players, too.

Soccer 5 Tropical Park is open 3 p.m.-midnight Mondays through Fridays and 9 a.m.-midnight Saturdays and Sundays.

“I cannot thank Miami Dade Parks and our Soccer 5 coaching staff enough for making our dream of developing small-sided soccer for kids in the Greater Miami area a reality,” Georgeson said. “It is an exciting time for us at Soccer 5 as we continue to expand our Kids Academy in South Florida built on the success of our public/private partnership with Miami Dade Parks and the Parks Foundation of Miami-Dade.”

Allison Diego, Director of Business Development, Fundraising and Advocacy for Miami-Dade Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Department, added: “The Parks Foundation of Miami-Dade is delighted to partner with The Soccer 5 vision to provide an outstanding experience for this community through soccer. We are happy to be a part of this important child sports development.”

For information or to register, visit


South Kendall Sun Blazers ( at Kendall Indian Hammocks Park, 11395 SW 79 St. (305-630-3314).

Miami Dade Soccer League ( at Three Lakes Park, 13375 SW 136 St. (786-488-5216).

Soccer 5 ( at Kendall Soccer Park, 8011 SW 127 Ave. (1-888-575-2976).

Club Atletico De Miami ( at Kendall Soccer Park, 8011 SW 127 Ave. (305-764-5783).

Soccer Academy of the Americas ( at Tamiami Park, 11201 SW 24 St. (786-486-3804)

Pinecrest Premier Soccer ( at Deerwood Bonita Lakes, 11511 S. Dixie Hwy. (305-255-3422).

Optimist Club of Westchester ( at Tropical Park, 7900 SW 40 St. (786-370-4222).

Coral Estates Soccer Club ( at Coral Estates Park, 1411 SW 97 Ave. (305-279-2328)

South Kendall Soccer Club ( at Kendall Indian Hammocks Park, 11395 SW 79 St. (305-630-3314).

Southern Soccer Coalition-AYSO ( at Millers Pond Park, 13350 SW 47 St. and Westwind Lakes Park, 6805 SW 152 Ave. (305-965-0083).

Tennis classes, programs

Tennis classes and programs for all ages are at the Penny Sugarman Tennis Center at Sans Souci, 1795 Sans Souci Blvd., North Miami. Call for information on group lessons, annual passes, court rates and private lessons. Tennis pro is Ross Dubins. Call 305-893-7130.

Got Milk

The National Milk Mustache “got milk?” campaign launched the call for entries for the 15th annual Scholar Athlete Milk Mustache of the Year (SAMMY) Awards.

The SAMMY scholarship recognizes 25 student-athletes who excel in academics, athletics, community service, leadership and who fuel their daily success with milk.

Milk Mustache celebrity judges will help select 25 winners from across the country who will receive a $7,500 college scholarship, an awards ceremony at Walt Disney World and an opportunity to appear in their own special Milk Mustache ad.

For complete contest rules and applications log onto where visitors can also learn more about the exclusive SAMMY awards weekend and view behind the scenes footage.

CB Sports Leagues

CB Sports Club offers Youth Basketball, Flag Football, Youth Soccer, Adult Soccer and Adult Basketball. Visit Call 786-273-5639.

Physically Challenged

Miami-Dade Parks welcomes children with disabilities in its youth leagues. If you need accommodations to participate, call 305-735-7847 (V/TDD).

Read more Miami-Dade Youth Sports stories from the Miami Herald

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